Educating the next generation
In part one (1) those with leadership responsibilities, as part of the church, have been urged to educate the flock on being good stewards of their finances. Here in part two (2) parents and carers as well as teachers are being called on to do their part in helping to educate our children on the topic of financial management.
Are you a parent or carer?
At home, very few parents/carers teach their children how to manage money. Many parents have not been taught and so they carry on the tradition. Therefore, those children grow up having no understanding of budgeting and living within their means. With that lack of knowledge, many start off their lives with borrowing (overdraft, bank loans, credit cards and store cards). Those who do not have the option to borrow from banks may turn to the ‘Money shops’ for ‘pay day loans’ or other forms of unsecured loans. The result is a ‘debt Trap’. We borrow to survive and the debt traps us into a cycle we cannot break on our own. And we are one pay packet away from being homeless. This is a cycle many young people begin at college or university. When they finally start working, they simply work to pay off their debts. The problem with that system is the fact that life does not stop for debt clearance. Life continues.
Some will enter marriage with that debt and go on to starting a family with it still hanging over their heads. Alongside that, interest rates are rising, charges are being added and soon there is a need to borrow more money to keep up with the everyday necesities. Others simply do not have the discipline required to clear their debts before they start spending again on luxuries (wants instead of needs).
The debt trap is a cycle we can all help to avoid or break through education. We started educating our son from approximately 6 years old by giving him £0.50 pocket money whenever we were going to do the monthly shopping. It was an extension of his maths education (moving up from dominoes and monopoly money). He waited until he had three lots of £0.50p coins before spending. He spent 2 of those £0.50p coins to purchase a chocolate and saved the other £0.50 pence. He had grasped the concept of saving before spending. He also understood the need for saving towards a long term goal (saving money he got for birthdays and pocket monies towards more costly items such as DVDs and in recent years a tablet to assist with his homework and preparation for his GCSE exams coming up in 2019).
About three months after the introduction of pocket money, another lesson was learned. He wanted two items costing more than the £1.00 he had in his pocket. We gave him two options to choose from:
He had an alternative—to obtain the excess from Mum or Dad and forfeit his next pocket allowance. Smart Lad! He’s always thinking outside the box. That plan may have worked in the short-term but we knew if we bailed him out that time, it could become a bad habit which would continue into adulthood. The habit of spending money we haven’t yet earned is what caused so many to be trapped in debt today. If we can teach a vital lesson with this small amount we can help to avoid many future issues. That was our thought process, at the time.
We watched to see what he would do and we also learned a lesson. He agonised over the two items in his hands—a chocolate bar and a packet of sweets. Eventually he made a choice to buy the chocolate bar and had change in his pocket. Lesson learned. Spend within your means! The lesson we learned, as parents, was: Allow him to make choices appropriate for his age and slowly give him more independence. That particular lesson has helped us throughout his childhood and is now working, for all concerned, as we journey through the teen years.
(We did pick up the packet of sweets without his knowledge. He was all smiles when he got home and saw them among the shopping. He was so grateful. It was worth it for that big smile on his face and the way his eyes bulged out in excitement when he saw the sweets. We rejoiced with him and shared hugs).
So we urge parents to do the hard thing first - teach the lessons in the early years. It is easier to give them what they want to keep them happy (for some parents this means keeping them from having a tantrum in public) but it’s better to help them understand the difference between a want and a need even if you have to experience a few embarrassing moments in public. They will thank you for teaching the lesson later in life.
‘Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire’ (Proverbs 29:17).
Are you a Head teacher or school teacher?
In school we do Mathematics and we learn how to add, subtract, divide and multiply. However, budgeting is only introduced to those on a management course in college or university when most have already accumulated debt. As teachers and head teachers you can help to bring about change in your school or with your vote through the union, in sync with the Department for Education.
Recently, Business Studies was introduced to our son’s school. This is a good starting point but unfortunately, only those who chose the subject as an option gets the opportunity to learn those skills. PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) is another area where money is discussed and might be the place to introduce financial management where all children can get the opportunity to learn some of those key skills. Alternatively, the subject, Finance could be introduced to all year groups.
When our son was in Infant school we attended a joint parent and child numeracy and literacy class (once per week for a six week period). It acted as a refresher course for parents who had long left school and also as a point of reference/ information in understanding what our children were being taught and how to help them with their homework. That was so successful that I volunteered my services as a parent-helper (classroom assistant) in order to help the children who were struggling but whose parents weren’t able to attend those sessions to better help them at home. It was my way of giving back to the school community.
In Junior school there was a similar one-off session. That session helped us to understand the changes in the academic structure and gave us new calculating techniques to help our children in mathematics. We were able to better help our son at home and he continues to achieve his academic goals. He was one of 3 students who achieved above the national average when he took his SATs exam and was recommended to take a GCSE subject-Statistics, 2 years early and achieved an A.
Those sessions (both in the Infant and Junior years) proved to be a very helpful and worthwhile venture which continues to bear fruit today, proving that when leaders/teachers and parents work together for the benefit of the children we get better results. Our children will continue to succeed if we do the hard work in training them up in the way they should go (see Proverbs 22:6).
I encourage you, school leaders, to involve the parents. Work alongside the parents to get the best results. Our children are maturing into adolescents when they are in high school but they are still children and are in need of guidance. If you try to take away the responsibility of parents to teach their own children then you will have less opportunity to influence them positively and that will show in the decline in their grades which will affect the overall school results.
Working alongside parents can be of great benefits in the earlier years and through Junior High school years. High school and college ‘Open days’ can be used to remind parents of the need for financial education at home—helping children be better prepared to cope with the financial demands of further education and work life. Those are opportunities to share helpful tips on money management through slide shows and possibly handouts that can be re-used at parent consultation days.
Continues in part 3 ~ Sharing Our Story